Archive for January, 2012

Money, Origami and Tea

January 11th, 2012
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Our latest Career Changers TV show features origami artist Won Park, whose specialty is folding dollar bills into unique pieces that are quite amazing. It takes intense focus, yet he must be relaxed at the same time... sort of like zen, which suits Won's low key persona. If you watch the segment, you'll see that we shot it at the Tea Farm Cafe in Puck's Alley, which Won himself suggested since he likes to hang out there with Tiffany, his girlfriend/business manager.

While I was waiting for Won, I got to talking to the young guy behind the counter. It turned out he was the owner. Ervin Gong, age 29, started an online biz about six years ago to offer a wide variety of teas from all over the world. There weren't many competitors at that time, he said, and he did well enough to put aside money to start his cafe in Manoa. He says the inspiration for that came from tea cafes in Beijing, where his family is from. It's a very relaxing environment -- heaven for tea lovers. There are dozens of small sample containers that you can open to smell the aromas of different teas he offers, hot or cold. You can also buy breakfast foods, sandwiches and delicious desserts.

Look closer at the photo above, and you'll see samples of Won's origami art. He leaves them as tips for Ervin. But they're also a selling tool. Patrons see the intricate dollar bill creations, then ask Ervin where they came from -- and how they can get in touch with Won to order custom-made origami pieces for themselves or to give as special gifts. It's a nice match for the two entrepreneurs, who have both found niches that fit them to a tea (pardon the pun). Here's the link to The Tea Farm Cafe site.

Won Park book

BTW, you can order Won's new book, "Dollar Origami by Won Park" on Amazon. The publisher actually contacted him and proposed the book idea, which is pretty rare since it's generally the other way around.

You can watch the Career Changers TV segment on OC16 (click here for daily viewing times) throughout the month of January, or view the low res version on the CCTV YouTube Channel.

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Year of the Dragon

January 5th, 2012
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Won Park Dragon

The new January episode of Career Changers TV begins airing Thursday night at 8:30 pm on OC16. Since the Chinese Lunar New Year is on Jan. 23, we went with a Chinatown theme and shot our segment intros at the Maunakea Marketplace. We also filmed segments about the Chinatown Business & Community Association, and Whoa! Fat kitchen oil disposal product at the nearby Chinatown Cultural Plaza.

Our first feature segment is about a Korean-American origami artist named Won Park, who creates unique pieces out of dollar bills and foreign currency (on commission). What started out as a hobby became a full-time profession for him after publishers in New York began contacting him to do his dollar bill origami for book covers and magazine spreads. You can view the low res YouTube version by clicking here, but it looks much better on high def TV.

If you have children or are still a kid at heart, you'll like our piece on the Hawaii FIRST Lego League robotics convention that was held last month. What's cool is they also incorporate a science fair type element, which addresses a specific problem or challenge. As a result, the Punabots team has come up with two patent-pending inventions that have gotten serious attention from major companies. Here's the YouTube version.

To watch the program in glorious widescreen high definition television as the Almighty Producer intended, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV for daily viewing times. If you can't watch it tonight, no problem -- it will run all month long. Mahalo!

Resolve vs. Reality

January 4th, 2012
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I stopped making New Year resolutions a long time ago. Instead, I start each day with a new to-do list and try my best to get stuff done, beginning with the easier tasks. The harder things -- big goals, long range projects -- are on a separate list that I keep nearby as a subconscious reminder of why I'm doing the less exciting, yet necessary work first.

While reading through emails and comments posted in response to my blogs the past year, I've noticed that many job-seekers and wannabe entrepreneurs seem to lack resolve. By that, I mean they want easy answers and quick fixes. For instance, recently a reader posted a comment on my Holiday Networking blog entry. She wrote that she had been networking for over a year and still had no job. I asked what her skills were and what kind of job was she searching for, since I couldn't offer advice without knowing more details. Never heard back from her.

Now, I'm not saying I could have gotten her a job. But I have helped others make connections and land new positions after they told me more about their experience and background. The difference is they showed a willingness to follow through, even if it was just answering a couple of simple questions from me. I've also gotten emails from people who say they have a great idea for an invention or new service, and want me to give them advice on how to launch their biz or get their product into the marketplace. Yet when I ask them for more info -- an elevator pitch, fact sheet, whatever -- they either tell me they don't have anything they can send me, or don't want to divulge any details because they're afraid I might steal their idea. Sheesh.

The reality is if you can't sell yourself or your idea in less than a couple of well thought-out sentences, chances are you're not going to get your foot in the door of the places you want to be. Moreover, if you don't have special skills or experience in the field you wish to be working in, then you have to go out and get those skills somehow. Maybe that means going back to college or doing an unpaid internship. It means tapping into your personal and professional network -- btw, networking isn't just for people who are currently looking for work. You should be making friends and useful contacts throughout your life. The earlier, the better. Why do you think so many Ivy League and business school grads wind up in high places? The same holds true for film school. You can learn the basics anywhere, but in college you can make lifelong connections based on mutual professional interests.

However, you also have to be in the right place at the right time. Yesterday I got a call from a guy who read my blog and was coming to Hawaii from Australia. He wanted to meet with me to see about jobs in our TV and film industry here. Only one problem... actually, a few. He's originally from Switzerland and speaks with a heavy French accent. Secondly, he has virtually no experience in film or television. As I told him, I respect his pluck in seeking out contacts like myself. But even if he was willing to start at the very bottom and work for free, Hawaii is not the best place to try and make it in American movies or television. You really have to be in L.A., where the action is. The bigger problem though was he didn't have a clearly defined goal. When I asked what his skills were or what he wanted to do, his response was so vague that I could not see myself spending more time talking to him since it would be pointless. Merely wanting to do something isn't the same as having the resolve to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

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On a more positive note, I'd like to share a Sanskrit proverb that is in the very front of my "Twenty-Four Hours a Day" AA book, which I read religiously even though I've been sober for over 23 years now. That's part of my resolve: to never forget the simple things I must do each day to keep sober, and why sobriety is my top priority. I have reread the daily passages year after year because the advice has served me well. Find your own source of inspiration, then stick with it.

Look to this day,

For it is life,

The very life of life.

In its brief course lie all

The realities and verities of existence,

The bliss of growth,

The splendor of action,

The glory of power --

For yesterday is but a dream,

And tomorrow is only a vision,

But today, well lived,

Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.

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Our new January episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thursday night on OC 16 at 8:30 pm. We have some really good stories, so check it out! For other daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch low-res versions of segments on the CCTV YouTube Channel by clicking here. Mahalo!